When its good… it’s sooo good. When it’s bad… its horrible! Working together as a couple in ministry can allow us to see God do through the two of us what is too big for us to do as individuals. It allows us to celebrate how He brought together the gifts and skills necessary to accomplish the “good works” that He planned for us to do together, way before we’d even met. So why is it so hard sometimes?
How is it that the thing that draws us most strongly together causes the most arguments?
Why do we have our worst conflicts when we’re heading into a big ministry thing?
And how can we make this team work together so that we’re bringing out the best in each other instead of triggering our worst?
Here’s a “fly-by” top 5 tips that we’ve discovered about doing ministry together as a couple, in a way that cements our marriage together instead of drawing us apart.
- Identify unifiers – What aspects of ministry unify us? What causes us to bind together as a husband and wife? What activities are easy for us to do together being like-minded? Talk about what these are and then…celebrate them! Be intentional about focusing conversation on them regularly so that you are reminded of the ways God is drawing you together.
- Identify the isolators – What aspects of ministry tend to divide or isolate? Is it because we are physically apart from each other or is it because we aren’t sharing them when we come together? Do they divide because we differ in our ideas about navigating them and are afraid of conflict? Talk about what these might be together… and then put them in their place. Chances are, they are not the central focus on your mission as a couple (for more on defining your mission in your marriage, see Railroad Tracks. Be wary of the isolators when you are tired and irritable (if they are issue driven). Figure out ways to short circuit the isolators that are circumstantial. For example, if you are home with Littles and not able to engage in the conversations around Kingdom things, figure out ways (together!) for you to enter into those conversations and contribute to what you are all about as a team.
- Buy In → Passion → Conflict The higher the buy in, the more passionate someone is about their ideas. The more passionate people are, the more potential there is for conflict when they don’t agree. Sounds like a bummer, but it really isn’t. Have you thanked the Lord for your spouse’s high level of buy in? Have you thanked Him for YOUR buy in – that He has called you to this place, for this purpose? Talk together about how your buy in and your passions contribute to the places your have conflict about ministry.
- Learn to IDENTIFY your differences. These differences may be in our agendas (our primary focus or objective), our methods of getting things done (strategies), and our gifting (ways we tend to go about getting it done). When you sit down to talk about the next event, ministry initiative or plan, start out TOGETHER. Identify your goal – be unified in that. Then talk about what you each would like to see happen in peoples’ lives and in the organization (agendas). Then as you strategize, verbalize the ways that each other’s gifting plays into your ideas. Affirm those gifts that you see coming out in the other’s priorities and ideas.
- Learn to APPRECIATE your differences. Realize that you ARE better together. Instead of assuming you are on the same page regarding a new event or plan and going “off to the races”, carve out fifteen minutes to sit down together and outline your goal, hopes, and strategy. Make sure you are affirming how God is accomplishing His big picture through the individual gifts of both of you.
Sometimes it feels like ministry is dividing us. But what if ministry is the greatest tool God intends to use to bring a tenacious perseverance, a courageous boldness and a passionate unity to our marriages? He is truly doing through us TOGETHER what is too big for us to do apart.